Man Versus Hoagie

When it comes to competitive eating, bigger isn’t always better.

Barely 5-foot-5 and weighing in at an anemic 136 pounds, I may not exactly fit the beefy mold of one who can consume as much food as the average linebacker.

Nonetheless, there I stood, with two feet of Primo Hoagies’ finest–over 32 ounces of stacked turkey, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and diced sweet peppers piled onto 24 inches of Italian roll—looming before me and with just 30 minutes to eat every last bit. 

For years, I’ve resisted the urge to take on food contests. Cheeburger Cheeburger’s one-pound burger challenge has tempted me and so has the idea of taking down an entire Manco & Manco pizza by myself, like some Mount Everest-scaling Sir Edmund Hillary of the foodie world. 

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I blame Travel Channel host Adam Richman. For three seasons, I salivated hungrily in front of my TV while the gregarious Man vs. Food host courageously chowed down a 72-ounce steak and the like. I gazed upon every excruciating bite in unadulterated envy.    

After a recent visit to my local Primo Hoagies, I decided to give it a shot. It wasn’t the “Wall of Fame,” with just a smattering of individuals, which made me accept this challenge. It was skeptical storeowner Barb and her “size matters” mentality. 

The gauntlet had been thrown. I broke the entire consumption process to a science: I chose mandatory toppings—at least one meat and two condiments—carefully, selecting turkey for its lightness factor, lettuce for digestion, tomato and sweet peppers, and olive oil instead of mayo, so the whole thing would, theoretically, slide right down.

I skipped breakfast and lunch to spur on a hearty hunger. I ate standing up so my innards wouldn’t be crimped, and started with the sandwich’s ends to get the breadiest parts out of the way. Time, speed and distance all converged, and at the end of 30-minutes, with exactly 16 seconds to spare, I popped the last of that hoagie in my weary mouth.

It was a small victory for skinny guys everywhere, and one large hoagie for Primo’s Wall of Fame.

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Ken Alan is a corporate concierge by profession who writes restaurant reviews for MLT. He now weights 138 pounds. 

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